I saw this on Jezebel the other day and I just had to say something. There was a documentary I once heard about called How to Lose your Virginity. It was all about how purity and virginity is defined in America. One comment from a specialist sticks out to me. The person noted that a woman’s sexuality has, throughout history, never been her own. Her body is the property of a masculine god, of her father and, eventually, of her husband. Never for her own enjoyment or use, her sexuality is controlled by men.
We see that in the comment on this pin. The 16-year-old’s sexuality is not her own, but the property of her father. The ring reminds her that her body is not her own.
I see this manifest in many other ways. A man may incessantly hit on a girl until she resorts to saying she has a boyfriend (regardless of whether she does or not). Most men will stop at that point because they don’t want to steal another man’s girl. They stop out of respect for the man.
In another example, I recently read a story about a man who is raising his son to see women as people (instead of objects). For the most part, he does a very good job of this. At one point in the article, he mentions flyers passed around his office for a restaurant famous for scantily clad girls. He added the phrases (aka someone’s daughter) next to all the models on the flyer. While his intentions are good, don’t the women deserve respect for being people. Must men be reminded that she has a father for them to keep their hands and comments to themselves?
As a society, we typically tell young women to keep their legs crossed and, at the same time, tell young men to go get ’em. What kind of world do we expect to create out of those messages? Is it any surprise that a woman may be uncomfortable with her sexuality or that a man may misinterpret a mini skirt as an invitation?
Robin Glover (@castle_owl_) December 22, 2013
I recently saw this on Twitter and it scares the shit out of me. Are we even trying to teach our children about sexuality? You know what, don’t answer that. There are plenty of states that focus on abstinence only education. This is how we end up with 0.8% of women (in one study) claiming to have had virgin births. How are teenagers supposed to know what is and isn’t sex if no one teaches them. Moreover, how do we expect them to know the difference between sex and rape?
Those differences are common sense for most adults, but would a 14-year-old or a 16-year-old know the difference? If we don’t tell them those above actions are not okay, how are they supposed to know?
Along with sex education that explains how to protect yourself from STIs, I think there should be education other sexual acts. For example, teenagers should give definitions of what it means to be a virgin. This may sound odd, but I have friends who thought if they just did oral, they were still virgins. Hell, I was one of those teenagers. I assumed a person was a virgin so long as there was no vaginal penetration with a penis. What about the physical and emotional issues surrounding other sexual acts? There wasn’t an adult around (who anyone felt comfortable talking to) who was there to give us a yes or no answer when it comes to virginity.
Moreover, shouldn’t teenagers understand what constitutes sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and molestation? Obviously, these issues should be dealt with delicately. I don’t have the curriculum planned out and I’m sure there will need to be precautionary measures in case a student who has experienced an assault in the past is at risk of being triggered.
I think about these things because I have a brother who just graduated high school last Spring. Does he know what is and isn’t rape? Does he know that if a woman is intoxicated or wearing revealing clothing that she is not asking for it? What has he learned in his short time span? Did someone teach him those things, or is he just guessing? These questions worry me because I love my brother.
I’m not trying to take the blame away from the perpetrator of sexual assaults. Instead, I’m saying that young men and women should know what it means to assault and be assaulted. They need to know so they don’t unintentionally become perpetrators, so they can protect themselves and so they can look out for their friends.